Disney California Adventure Debuts Cars Land, Buena Vista Street
By Mimi Kmet
June 14, 2012 9:59 PM
Disney California Adventure Park at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., has premiered Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, the culmination of a five-year reimagining development at the theme park that also includes previously completed components like “The Little Mermaid” dark ride and “World of Color,” a nighttime show. The largest piece of the expansion is the 12-acre Cars Land, based on the Disney-Pixar animated film “Cars.” Grand opening celebrations included an onscreen remote broadcast of "Cars" stars Lightning McQueen and Mater racing across the highways of America on their way to welcome guests at the premiere and the arrival of Lightning and Mater in Cars Land. Premiering alongside Cars Land was Buena Vista Street and the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge.
Cars Land features three attractions showcasing places and characters from the movie -- Luigi's Flying Tires, where riders lean left and right, floating and bumping along in a 21st century attraction reminiscent of the Disneyland Flying Saucers attraction; Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, where tractors “dance” to Mater's hoedown tune, swinging guests around in trailers they are pulling behind them; and Radiator Springs Racers, where guests board cars, each with its own personality, for a high-speed race through Radiator Springs. Themed shops and restaurants include Flo's V8 Cafe, the Cozy Cone Motel and Ramone's House of Body Art. Lightning McQueen and Mater make appearances and pose for photos near the Cozy Cone Motel. Many of the automotive winks were inspired by a research trip that Disney Imagineers took along Route 66. Others were inspired by working with the animators from Pixar.
Entertainment in the streets of Radiator Springs features DJ, the ultimate party car, a mobile boom box with giant speakers and built-in disc changer; and the Red the Fire Truck, which recruits guests to help water the flowers and clean up Radiator Springs, while getting wet themselves. The road leading into Cars Land is dotted with large animated neon signs reminiscent of the ’50s era of cross-country travel along Route 66. The signs are three-dimensional representations of recognizable landmarks from the movie, and they come to life each night at sundown.
Cars Land also features gift and souvenir shops selling Cars Land and other Disney and Disney Pixar gifts. Among them are Sarge's Surplus Hut, offering kids’ clothing, costumes, hats, toys and plush toys (featuring Lightning McQueen, Mater and other "Cars" characters). Radiator Springs Curios is a country-style mercantile selling “Cars”-themed pins, magnets, antenna toppers and license plate frames. Ramone's House of Body Art features the signature items of the Low & Slow Car Club and Champion Custom Speed Shop collections in T-shirts, work shirts, hats and accessories.
Dining options in Cars Land include Flo's V8 Cafe, modeled after the roadside eateries along old Route 66. The cafe serves full meals from a quick-service counter. A windowed "showroom" dining area and adjoining outdoor patio offer a view of the Cadillac Mountain Range. The orange "cone" architecture of Sally's Cozy Cone Motel offers quick service, cone-themed snacks from five different cones, including ice cream cones, chile "cone" queso, pop "cone" and other "cone"-coctions. Fillmore's Taste-in is a food-and-beverage kiosk that offers fresh fruit, bottled water and juices.
Buena Vista Street is the new entrance to Disney California Adventure Park, with architecture and an ambience that resembles 1920s Los Angeles. The area is meant to mimic what it was like when Walt Disney arrived in L.A. in 1923. Among the new attractions are the Red Car Trolley, which takes guests on a tour into Hollywood Land, passing the Carthay Circle Theatre, which was modeled after the original theater in L.A. that premiered “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in the 1930s. Inside is the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge, a fine dining restaurant with a menu by Andrew Sutton, executive chef of Napa Rose restaurant at the Grand Californian Hotel, and an extensive wine list.
Among the other landmarks on Buena Vista Street are entry turnstiles that are inspired by the Pan-Pacific Auditorium; Buena Vista Plaza, a town square with a flag pole a stop for the Red Car Trolley and Oswald’s gas station; and “Storytellers,” a statue of Walt Disney as a young man with an early version of Mickey Mouse.
There are also several shops and eateries (including the first Starbucks located inside a theme park), as well as mobile entertainment, including “The Red Car News Boys,” who roll into town on Red Car Trolleys, singing “California, Here I Come” and other tunes from the 1920s and ’30s; the citizens of Buena Vista Street, who interact with guests; and Five & Dime, a musical group that rides into town in a jalopy with a singer named Dime and a five-piece band.